The Silken Rose, Carol McGrath: Book Review

A delightful read for avid historical fictions fan… meet The Silken Rose by Carol McGrath.

The plot:

1236. Beautiful Ailenor of Provenance, cultured and intelligent, is only thirteen when she marries Henry III. Aware of the desperate importance of providing heirs to secure the throne from those who would snatch it away, she is ruthless in her dealings with Henry’s barons.

As conflict escalated between them, Ailenor’s shrewd and clever Savoyard uncles come to support her, but her growing political power is threatened when Henry’s half-siblings also arrive at court.

Henry and Ailenor become embroiled in an unpopular war to protect Gascony, last English territory on the continent, sparking conflict with warrior knight, Simon de Montfort, the King’s seneschal.

Ailenor, desperate to protect Gascony for her son, strives to treat with France and bring peace. Can she find the strength to control her destiny and protect all that she holds dear?

A real treat

The Silken Rose covers the 13th Century, which isn’t something I’d usually read. I do love a historical fiction every now and again, but I feel like this is one for more of the avid genre readers. It took me quite a while to get used to, but it definitely didn’t disappoint on a whole. It just made me put my medieval history-hat on!

There are a lot of names and locations, making it a bit hard to follow at times – I found I picked up on the main people, but on occasion was still left wondering who had which title and where someone was at a particular time.

I loved reading more about the fact side through the author’s note; it’s encouraged me to pick up other books around this era.

The main characters were great – those both real and imagined; Rosalind was my favourite (fictional), and I loved how McGrath tied these two together. The story spans from 1236 to 1253, so you have a long time to grow with these characters and watch them develop.

This is the first book in a new trilogy, and the second book promises to throw you in to a great battle (Second Baron’s War). I also feel like I don’t need to read the next two books, as it made a great read just on its own.

I really enjoyed the ‘she-wolf’ aspect; McGrath explains more in the author’s note, but the story really reflects Ailenor’s nepotism, and I’m excited to see how each queen comes out in her own. A fierce story full of feminism, politics, romance and betrayal. A real treat.

McGrath’s writing is splendid – she really takes you back and helps you envision 13th Century England. A great mix of research and well-structured writing made me feel like a fly on the wall, especially when this is not something I’ve imagined before (except GCSE history, but that is long forgotten).

A trilogy I’m eager to read.

The Silken Rose, Carol McGrath, RRP £9.99 (paperback); Book Depository 

Pages: 373

Publisher: Accent Press

Genre: Historical Fiction

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